La Martina - ambassador for polo Featured

Lando Simonetti eschews current fashion trends in his unique business vision
by 21 February 2011

At this year’s PITTI Uomo, I had another opportunity to meet Lando Simonetti and learn more about his vision, not only for La Martina but for luxury apparel in general. Again I found myself in the vibrant and friendly setting of the La Martina stand, and as usual there was the usual buzz of excitement and bursts of laughter as Lando met the guests and shared some of his personal experiences. This time round however I wanted to concentrate on Lando’s vision for the future for La Martina and Polo.
Lando, its been a year... click on page numbers or arrows below to continue reading this article

Click here to read the previous interview with Lando Simonetti
Click here to see a list of La Martina boutiques

Lando, its been a year since we last spoke about La Martina and its directions, what about La Martina’s future?
Well as I mentioned last time we met, I foresaw some necessary charges in our European organisation. We had franchisees that worked very hard and grew the La Martina business in terms of turnover very well, however, building a brand isn’t about turnover: turnover should be a consequence of the success of the brand. I realised we needed a global DNA that would be understood and shared by all at La Martina, and that would be extended to our clients. This isn’t easy when you have franchisee or concessionaries that have profit as their principal objective. Hence, the future is about La Martina’s own people working toward building the brand, a polo brand known for its values as a supplier and an ambassador to the game, not a clothing manufacturer, and certainly not a fashion brand.
We are obviously happy that people from all walks of life enjoy and appreciate our products, but that must be a consequence of hard work in creating a leadership position behind the game of polo and supplying high quality, safe, reliable and contemporary products.

So how do you see the future of the industry?
Well, I took a holiday recently and while sitting on the beach reflecting on La Martina and the market place, I realised a great deal of things. One in particular was that the apparel industry is becoming more and more competitive, and that La Martina isn't really about apparel at all, and even less about fashion. The quality of fabrics, design, manufacturing and even craftsmanship is becoming more difficult to justify every day. Only companies that have huge advertising budgets can possibly remain at an advantage, and even these brands will find it more and more difficult. As I mentioned, we are not a fashion brand, and I don’t want to be a marketing company either: we are not about adding value behind heavy advertising and testimonials, we really do have a mission towards the game of polo. In fact, La Martina, for the third year running, will be the official sponsor for the World Polo Cup to take place in Argentina in 2012 organised by the IPF, International Polo Federation. The tournament will bring together polo teams from around the world. First, regional tournaments in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, Middle East and South America. The final will include the host team, Argentina, and the last world cup winner, Chile. Hence, a total of 10 teams will meet in Argentina to play for the world IPF Polo Cup 2012.

Clearly La Martina is proud to be the major sponsor and host the tournament in Argentina, but the true value is the fact that La Martina is helping to expand the sport that is the basis of its success, and where its true passion lies.

Having a world cup with International participation from all 5 continents will certainly give additional visibility to the game. However the game really needs TV broadcasting. When is this likely to happen?
The game in most parts of the world is still too slow for TV, perhaps only in Argentina is polo fast enough to be entertaining for TV. One of the reasons is the overall level, Argentina has a very high level. However, it will probably take some changes in the rules to allow for a faster and more entertaining game fit for TV. There is still a lot we can and must do to expand the knowledge and participation of the game before it is necessary to seek TV broadcasting.

For instance?
The La Martina Polo Management Group has been organising, polo events and tournaments and generally helping people learn about polo around the world for over 35 years. We believe it is this that will lead La Martina as a company and mould the future of the brand. By actively and passionately developing the game and participation of Polo around the world, La Martina will be following its true mission. We know we produce great, high quality products for polo players; however the value added comes from how those products connect to the market and more importantly to the clients. La Martina’s objective in the future will be to create that added value not through large advertising budgets but through a clear passion for the sport, that anybody connected to the industry will appreciate and value. This will extend far beyond the product, creating a group of people with common values toward life in general and in particular in their lifestyle and personal values.

It's not really about numbers, though we would certainly like more and more people to enter the world of Polo. It's about quality and in particular shared values. There are around 10,000 polo members around the world who buy their polo products directly from La Martina in Argentina. The sheer calibre of these people makes them excellent ambassadors to the La Martina brand. Word of mouth marketing is cheap and more effective for a niche brand like La Martina. As the market grows, as it has been doing for many years, La Martina will grow, but not thanks to advertising or creative marketing, but based on a real and genuine passion for a sport that is still in need of being expressed and fully appreciated. It really is a fantastic game and I intend to make it my objective and that of La Martina to make it known to as many people as we can, so they too can have the opportunity to be part of this very special club!

To learn more about polo and the events the surround the sport, contact Polo Management Group at www.polomanagementgroup.com

Click here to read the previous interview with Lando Simonetti
Click here to see a list of La Martina boutiques